Pirali Brahmin

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A Pirali Brahmin is any member of a subgrouping of Brahmins found throughout Bengal, which is split between India and Bangladesh. Notably, Rabindranath Tagore and the Tagore family are members of this group. The term "Pirali" historically carried a stigmatized and pejorative connotation; its eponym is the vizier Mohammad Tahir Pir Ali, who served under a governor of Jessore. Pir Ali was a Brahmin Hindu who converted to Islam; his actions resulted in the additional conversion of two Brahmins brothers. As a result, orthodox Hindu society shunned the brothers' Hindu relatives (who had not converted),[1] and the descendants of these Hindu relatives became known as the Pirali Brahmins — among whom numbered the Tagores.[2] This unorthodox background ultimately led the Tagore family to dispense with many of the customs followed by orthodox Brahmins[citation needed] and subsequently they embraced the Brahmo sect of Hinduism.

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  1. ^ Thompson, Jr., E (1926), Rabindranath Tagore: Poet and Dramatist, Read, p. 12, ISBN 1-4067-8927-5, The [Tagores] are Pirili Brahmans [sic]; that is, outcastes, as having supposedly eaten with Musalmans in a former day. No strictly orthodox Brahman would eat or inter-marry with them. 
  2. ^ (Dutta & Robinson 1995, pp. 17–18).


  • Dutta, K; Robinson, A (1995), Rabindranath Tagore: The Myriad-Minded Man, St. Martin's Press, ISBN 0-312-14030-4 .